Follow main character Jim as he joins the Air Corps in WWII. Part war story and part love story.
Mayday! Mayday! Screamed the co-pilot Jim as the bomber took more flak like a tin can of hot lead. This was his first real mission since completing training in Sioux City, Iowa. Jim looked at the instrument panel to check airspeed, altitude and to see if all the engines were still firing. He could not escape taking a quick glance of the picture he taped to the cockpit panel of his new bride Sophia. However, the current situation took precedent as the pilot lay dead next to him. The pilot had just taken a shot to the chest about 10 minutes ago and Jim was doing everything in his power to keep control of the plane.
They had just dropped their payload of bombs on a classified military industrial complex in Berlin and were on the way back to base. They had around 400 miles to go to return to base. The status of the crew was terrible as far as Jim knew. The tail gunner was wounded because some shrapnel had just severed his right foot. The other crewmen were attending to him but that did not matter as Jim had bigger problems. This flying fortress was a big target as Jim pushed the throttle to the max to race back to base. He knew that once out of occupied German land that he could get some relief as he crossed into the safety of the allies. That is if this aircraft could make it. The perspiration just poured down Jim’s face and his heart was racing. Not sure if it was due to lack of oxygen or too much adrenaline, but suddenly Jim started to have and flashback to one year earlier.
It all started when he was just a young man of 19 years old right after the attack on Pearl Harbor that prompted the Americans to join the fight in WWII. Jim was passed up on the draft but decided to join the United States Air Corps to serve his country. He lived in Muscatine, Iowa and was a part-time diesel mechanic with a local car repair shop. He had two younger twin brothers Jake and Aidan who both were drafted by the Army. Jake was a howitzer gunner on the battlefields of Normandy while Aidan as an Army medic in the Philippines. Jim remembered the day when he and his brothers were working that hot July summer day on Ron Brennan’s farm bailing hay. They had just finished working 8 hours for 25 cents an hour and they decided to go into town to get something to eat and drink. The boys headed into town and went to Smiths Bar to spend a little of their new found riches. Jim ordered a tall glass of cold beer and wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. As he did this the handkerchief fell out of his hand and hit the floor. When Jim went to pick it up he caught a glimpse of a beautiful lady walking outside in the window. Intrigued he tried to look closer without staring, but was taken aback by her beautiful long flowing red hair.
He had never seen this girl around this part of town before and decided to take a chance and introduce himself. He immediately excused himself, combed his hair and went outside and said “Hello”. The girl at first acted like she was not interested, but then turned around and said. “Hi.” Jim asked her “So what brings you around this neck of the woods?” The lady said. “Well aren’t you going to ask my name first?” “Oh excuse me.” said Jim. “What is your name sweet lady?” Jim said with a grin on his face. “Well since you are kind of handsome and you ask so politely, my name is Sophia.” She replied with a hint of sarcasm. “So now will you answer my question?” said Jim. “Sure.” Sophia said. “I was just walking home after visiting my grandmother today.” She continued. “I just decided to take a different route home today and I am sure glad I did.” She said as the fading sun radiated the highlights in her hair. “Well, Sophia would you like to come in and have a drink with me?” said Jim. She agreed to have just one drink as long as her mother did not find out or question her on why she was getting home late.
After Sophia drank her rum and Coke she scratched out her phone number on a napkin and asked him to call on her. Jim’s brothers not wanting to interfere kept watching those two talk and Jim always thinking of others besides himself did take the courtesy of introducing Sophia to them. Sophia realizing that she might have some explaining to do to her mother, left in bit of a hurry but said. “Call me.” She then blew Jim a kiss as she walked out bar and started to make her way home to her house. Without hesitation and knowing his brothers would be at the bar until closing he walked up and grabbed Sophia’s hand and said. “Hey, it is dark out and I would love to walk you home if you do not mind.” Sophia seemed surprised at his charm and wit and took him up on his offer. Although, she only had to walk three blocks to get home she found his gentleman spirit to be uplifting compared to the other boys she had met before.